In summary, this bites.
I am, after all, one who firmly believes that God put the idea of summer vacation from school in the minds of those who originally brought it into being partly for the edification of humankind and mostly for my own edification.
While Iâ€™ve dedicated a large part of my life to the furtherance of our educational system, a system I hold in high regard, I do believe some of the best parts of ourselves have come not just from the classroom, but also from the extended periods in life where we give our minds free reign to lead themselves for a while. Whether it is hours spent wading through creeks, or afternoons spent exploring on two wheels, or a summer spent building a clubhouse, all these things can have just as much value as my instructions on reading Hamlet, or writing thesis statements, or undangling those participles. There is immense profit in just letting oneâ€™s mind go where it was designed to go, but go alone, or go at least without structure or formal interference. And to be sure, there are other ways in which we create environments that allow free thought to flourish. But summer break, with its unending days of unfettered living, is among the most fertile ground for this that Iâ€™ve ever crossed.
He calls the Augusts of his childhood â€œthe most endless month of those forever summers,â€ and then, noting the August start dates of so many schools now, he asks, â€œSo when did it all change? When did the summers grow short, truncated? When did the endless month of August become not even a month at all but a jumping-off place for the season to come?â€
As a man who sees truth, he correctly determines, â€œThey say it has to do with air-conditioning, but I know sadism when I see it.â€
On several occasions, Iâ€™ve read Braggâ€™s column to LCB over our morning coffee. More than once, in one short page, Braggâ€™s managed to acquaint us with both laughter and tears. â€œMy Empty Nest,â€ by the way, is a personal favorite. We tend to see eye to eye on these sorts of things, and as bonus, heâ€™s got the whole Pulitzer thing going for him, so intellectually, I believe crying over a Bragg piece beats crying over a sap-laden commercial (something Iâ€™ve done regularly, despite my own disgust).
So yes, Iâ€™ve liked Rick Braggâ€™s column ever since he began writing it, and I wasnâ€™t expecting that to change when I picked up his latest installment. But with â€œEndless Summer,â€ he became a man after my own heart.